The September Issue Directed by: R.J Cutler Cast: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 4, 2009
Plot: A documentary that follows Anna Wintour, "the pope of fashion," as the editor-in-chief assembles the almighty 840-page September issue of Vogue magazine.
Who’s It For? Those who aren’t struck by some sort of curiosity at the thought of a head-on dive into the realm of sophisticated wardrobe will likely be totally lost and ultimately uninterested. The September Issue is not specific to the fashion world, but it does demand some interest of entering into it. Fans of Vogue magazine especially would find this to be a great treat.
Expectations: I doubt someone would make a documentary specific to the followers of fashion. That being said, I was wondering if a film about someone as powerful as Anna Wintour would speak volumes about leadership, the importance of fashion, or maybe some mix of the two.
Actors: Anna Wintour: From the 90-minute glimpse we get into her work and some of her personal life, it appears that Wintour is a leader who runs her glamour ship on tough-love, with most of her loneliness at the top coming from her 100% dedication to Vogue and the world of fashion. Though she does tend to boss people around, (even telling Bob the cameraman he needs to go to the gym), comparisons to fashion monarchs like Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada would be mostly unfair. Wintour is a blunt personality, for it's all for the sake of what's vogue. Score: 7
Grace Coddington: The creative director for Vogue gets her own subplot as a type of underdog voice of the magazine. Should one feel that this film does take sides in the efficient friction between Wintour and Grace, it's likely that Coddington is the one with more support. She works as hard for the magazine, but much of her efforts seems to be rejected with no remorse by her boss, Wintour. Still, the relationship between Grace and Anna reaches its own tranquility when Wintour calls grace a "genius" at the end of the film. Score: 6
Talking: In the words of Confessions of a Shopaholic, this documentary doesn't speak entirely in the "Prada" language, but simple knowledge of the power within names like "Dolce and Gabbana" does help in appreciating the entire picture of this world. That's not just any type of towel, that's one made by Yves Saint Laurent. Score: 5
Sights: The September Issue is a complete immersion into the empire of Vogue. Showing the high offices of the magazine is just the shallow end, as the documentary goes deep into every step of the creative process (except for the actual writing). And of course, this film is a warehouse sized closet of fancy dresses and pretty little outfits. For some, that may be enough. Score: 6
Sounds: A very modern soundtrack adds another layer to the tres chique aesthetics of the film. Many of the danceable tunes come from groups like The Fratellis, of Montreal, Ladytron, Ratatat, and LCD Soundsystem. Rarely impeding on the dialogue, most of the music is used in montage or to make runway moments just a tad more glamorous. Score: 6
Even if the film fails to think outside of the Vogue offices, it intelligently captures the process of putting together the magazine and unravels such steps with great fascination (that is, if you care.) But as The September Issue unfolds the egos that are working for and against each other to create this yearly fashion bible, the documentary relies more on already present intrigue to take the place of the general requirement of entertainment. For those who wish to remain outside of the fashion world, amusement will only come from the colorful leading heads of Vogue, mostly because they have been made into a weiner schnitzel warm-up if Bruno were in the same room (Andre Leon Talley, especially).
Do people know that their wardrobes are partially dictated by the gut instincts of Wintour and Co., who use their magazine as a type of recommendation platform based on their hunches? Sometimes the truth isn't pretty, even if the outfits sometimes are.
For the population who choose to invest their time and money into looking good at a high price, they will be rewarded by checking out this Issue.
Final Score: 6/10